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Unveiled three and a half years ago, the fourth generation Audi A8 is getting ready for its mid-life cycle refresh.

Two prototypes of Audi‘s flagship sedan were spied testing in Germany, and even if they look pretty much the same, our spy photographers said that the one wearing the ‘HN VW 692’ license plates was actually the plug-in hybrid version.

Comparison: 2021 Mercedes S-Class Vs. BMW 7-Series Vs. Audi A8 – Which German Flagship Saloon Gets Your Vote?

In terms of styling, we can see that the headlamps have different graphics, similar to the ones on the new A3, though it’s worth noting that while the PHEV had the regular lighting units at the front, the ICE-powered variant was equipped with the Matrix LED clusters. The grille has a slightly different shape as well, the front bumper is also new and sports larger creases on each side, and we could expect tweaked side skirts, rear bumper and probably redesigned taillights, even if on the test cars they look virtually identical to the current iteration .

The overall design of the cockpit should remain largely the same, with the two screens, one for the infotainment system and the other one for controlling the HVAC, sitting in the middle of the dashboard, as well as a third one for the digital instrument gauges. However, they might feature more modern software, which, alongside upholstery and trim revisions, should round out the changes inside.

It’s still too early to speak about the engine family, though, if anything, expect improved fuel consumption and lower carbon dioxide emissions. The plug-in hybrid model might also get a new battery that will help it get a longer all-electric range. The current A8 TFSI e offers 17 miles (27 km) of electric driving, can hit 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.9 seconds and uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 and an electric motor integrated into the torque converter of the eight-speed automatic gearbox, for a total output of 443 HP (449 PS / 330 kW) and 516 lb-ft (699 Nm) of torque.

The facelifted A8 is expected to debut later this year as a 2022 model.

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It’s no secret that smartphones collect a ton of data about their owners, but cars are also a treasure trove of information.

When you think about it, they can store everything from phones calls and text messages to where you’ve travelled. However, that’s just scratching the surface as some vehicles collect far more data.

In a case highlighted by NBC News, a mechanic from Michigan was mysterious murdered in 2017 and two years passed without any arrests. With the case effectively cold, detectives embraced digital vehicle forensics to examine the victim’s Chevrolet Silverado which was stolen around the same time as the killing.

Also Read: Is Your Car Spying On You?

As part of their investigation, police uncovered “time-stamped recordings of someone else’s voice using the hands-free system to play Eminem on the radio.” Authorities let the victim’s family listen to the recordings and they were able to identify the person as Joshua Wessel, who used to “tinker on cars and motorcycles” with the victim. With the name of the alleged killer, police were able to reconstruct the final hours before the killing and arrest Wessel, who has pleaded not guilty.

While that’s just one of example of the obscure data that vehicles collect, the publication also notes they store an assortment of other information including speed and acceleration as well as when doors are opened and closed. They can also store voice commands, seat belt usage and details such as “when and where the lights were switched on.”

This has made vehicles appealing for law enforcement as they can show where a person was traveling, how fast they were going and if they had any accomplices thanks to door and seatbelt sensors. While this information can help bring criminals to justice, there are major privacy and stalking concerns.

Since infotainment systems aren’t typically ‘locked’ with a passcode or fingerprint, police can access them more readily. As NBC News noted, “law enforcement officials can sometimes extract incriminating text messages, calls or files from an automobile far more easily than they could from a suspect’s cellphone.”

The field of digital vehicle forensics is also becoming more mainstream as tools to access vehicle information have become more robust. In particular, the publication noted Berla Corp launched their tool in 2013 with access to 80 models and that has now expanded to more than 14,000 models.

Police also using vehicle information in more cases than in the past. In Michigan, there are four State Police offices that “routinely” conduct these types of investigations even for “smaller, everyday felonies.”

The whole article is worth a read and NBC News pointed out Berla founder Ben LeMere revealed in a podcast, “People rent cars and go do things with them and don’t even think about the places they are going and what the car records. Most of them aren’t doing anything wrong, but it’s pretty funny to see the hookers and blow request text messages and answers.” Maybe keep that in mind before your next trip to Miami.

When Alfa Romeo introduced the 2021 Giulia and Stelvio in December, the company noted they would be joined by the “upcoming PHEV Tonale, which will start production next year.”

While the company has been tight-lipped about the crossover, Motor.es is reporting the Tonale will be introduced this fall.

While nothing is official, the publication says there will be a Tonale Launch Edition and it will go on sale in November. The standard model will apparently arrive shortly thereafter in early 2022.

Also Read: Alfa Romeo Tonale Is A Sexy Preview Of A New Compact Crossover

Previewed by a concept at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, the Tonale will slot beneath the Stelvio and become the brand’s entry-level crossover. Needless to say, there’s a lot riding on it as Alfa’s return to the United States hasn’t been a roaring success as the brand only sold 18,292 units in America last year.

The production Tonale will reportedly echo the concept, but feature revised lighting units and more traditional side mirrors. The interior is said to largely carryover, but some of the more extreme elements will likely be dropped.

Engine options remain unconfirmed, but will reportedly be shared with the Jeep Renegade. If that’s the case, the plug-in hybrid variant should have a turbocharged 1.3-liter petrol engine with outputs of 128 hp (96 kW / 130 PS) and 178 hp (132 kW / 180 PS).

The engine is backed up by an 11.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which powers an electric motor that develops 59 hp (44 kW / 60 PS). This gives the plug-in hybrid Renegade combined outputs of 187 hp (140 kW / 190 PS) and 237 hp (176 kW / 240 PS). Of course, the most important number is an electric-only range of approximately 26 miles (42 km) in the WLTP cycle.

H/T to Motor1
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